Protein microarray analysis of mammary epithelial cells from obese and nonobese women at high risk for breast cancer: Feasibility data

Patrick G. Pilie, Catherine Ibarra-Drendall*, Michelle M. Troch, Gloria Broadwater, William T. Barry, Emanuel F. Petricoin, Julia D. Wulfkuhle, Lance A. Liotta, Siya Lem, Joseph C. Baker, April Stouder, Anne C. Ford, Lee G. Wilke, Carola M. Zalles, Priya Mehta, Jamila Williams, Melanie Shivraj, Zuowei Su, Joseph Geradts, Dihua YuVictoria L. Seewaldt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Background: Obesity is a well-established risk factor for cancer, accounting for up to 20% of cancer deaths in women. Studies of women with breast cancer have shown obesity to be associated with an increased risk of dying from breast cancer and increased risk of developing distant metastasis. While previous studies have focused on differences in circulating hormone levels as a cause for increased breast cancer incidence in postmenopausal women, few studies have focused on potential differences in the protein expression patterns of mammary epithelial cells obtained from obese versus nonobese women. Methods: Protein expression was assessed by reverse-phase protein microarray in mammary epithelial cells from 31 random periareolar fine needle aspirations performed on 26 high-risk women. Results: In this pilot and exploratory study, vimentin (unadjusted P = 0.028) expression was significantly different between obese and nonobese women. Conclusions: Vimentin is integral both to adipocyte structure and function and to the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition needed for cancer cell metastasis. Further research is needed to confirm this finding and determine the possible effects of the adipocyte microenvironment on the initiation and progression of breast cancer in high-risk women. Impact: Differential protein expression patterns obtained from a future expanded study may serve to elaborate the underlying pathology of breast cancer initiation and progression in obese women and identify potential biomarkers of response to preventative interventions such as dietary changes and exercise.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)476-482
Number of pages7
JournalCancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2011
Externally publishedYes


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